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If you’re taken in by a law enforcement officer on suspicion of D.W.I. but found not to be intoxicated, why won’t they take you back to your car?

Jim Ware

Cpl. Charles Smith, public information officer for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, explains what happens if a person is arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired and then taken to the sheriff’s office on Blue Clay Road for an Intoxilyzer test:

If “The defendant is tested and a result of .08 or greater given, the person is placed under some type of bond and held until the bond is met and a sober signer takes possession of the defendant, and that person is responsible for the defendant until they are sober.“

If “The defendant  is tested and there is no probable cause found, the defendant still may have an amount of an impairing substance in their system that would cause their judgment to be questionable. Therefore, the officer could be held accountable for that person’s actions to himself or others if he were taken back to the vehicle and allowed to operate the vehicle.

“This is the reason the person is left at the facility and given the opportunity to call someone to pick them up.”

User-contributed question by:
Terry Ball

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4 Responses to “ If you’re taken in by a law enforcement officer on suspicion of D.W.I. but found not to be intoxicated, why won’t they take you back to your car?”

  1. On May 18, 2010 at 4:48 am David Jewel wrote:

    The problem is if they are arrested and found to have nothing in their system they are unfairly penalizing people. What if they have nobody to pick them up or cab fare thats ridiculous to say the least.

  2. On May 19, 2010 at 7:21 pm Bob wrote:


    This is the stupidest answer I have ever read.

  3. On May 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm Boomer wrote:

    If a person’s driving actions caused enough suspicion for an officer to stop him or her, conduct a field sobriety exercise and then transport to a facility to have a breath test conducted; the officer has a responsibility to protect the safety of the individual.
    There are other substances (drugs, for example) or conditions (diabetes or other illness) that can cause a person to appear intoxicated while they are driving. When an officer interviews the driver, s/he attempts to determine if the impairment is due to alcohol, drugs or illness and then take an appropriate action.
    If the person is under the influence of drugs or is ill, this will not cause a reading of the blood alcohol content tested by the breathalyzer (unless, of course, they had been drinking). Just because a breathalyzer gives a zero reading or gives a low reading does mean that the person is safe to drive. The best policy for the safety of the driver and the public is to have a responsible party take the driver home.

  4. On November 21, 2010 at 8:14 pm John wrote:

    This is the by far the stupidest thing I’ve read so far. I’ve been forced to take a field sobriety test (which I passed). I can’t begin to tell you how infuriated I’d have been if I was taken into the station and then not driven back to my vehicle after blowing clean.

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